Last Friday, I had the pleasure of attending an EP release party at the Metropolitan… Kitchen and Lounge located on West Street in Annapolis. Featuring both local and out-of-state bands and attended by an eclectic group of music lovers ranging from all walks of life, this specific release party was for the wildly popular local group, Bumpin’ Uglies. That night, the Uglies, featuring a stellar supporting cast, promoted their latest work: the extended play, “Freakout Hell Bus”.
Because of the bands that played, I was not only able to listen, but also able to gain a new level of appreciation for funky reggae and rock; some of the best genres to catch a serious groove with. Inspired by artists ranging from Sublime to Led Zeppelin, the musicianship that each group presented was great. While Bumpin Uglies headlined the night, three separate groups warmed their stage and crowd thanks to the arrangement of local industry player Mr. Justin Lasher, currently working for the full service event production company, First Level Productions.
The first act of the night was the local up-and-coming group, Freelance. Setting the tone for the night early, Freelance was able to bring in a solid crowd of what seemed to be younger audience members, just as interested in music as the usual suspects who frequent venues like this. Combining reggae – rock and alternative, these guys did a nice job kicking off the release party. While it was very clear that they were younger, more specifically high school-aged, they were able to bring a heavy energy to make up for any age barriers present. Musicians Trevor Prescott, vocals and guitar, Jesse Johnson, guitar, Luke Turner, bass, and Drew Creed, drums, are definitely some guys to keep on the radar.
The second group of the night was another one of the rare out-of-state gems that I seem to run into every time I go to venues like the Metropolitan. Amongst the Monks are a four piece from Corning, New York, and I can say without a doubt that these guys (and girl) blew my mind. While the audience sadly decreased in size from earlier, the groove of both the songs and instrumentals, like my personal favorite of the night, “Resting Bitch Face”, absolutely tore the room up. I was able to catch up with the Monks after their set, and learned more about them as a group. Originally a three piece trio featuring Phil Way on guitar and vocals, Ian Kull on bass, and Jeremy Bussmann on drums, the newest addition of vocalist Emily Plummer rounded out an extremely polished group clearly inspired by the likes of Zeppelin and other jam mastering greats. While watching, I honestly could not believe the lack of size of the crowd taking part in the performance. It is a shame that there were not many people watching and moving along with the band, but this group is poised to come back around soon enough. Hopefully then, the crowd will grow and amp up enough to bring the energy to an all time high – something that would put this group over the top.
Following Amongst the Monks was Prince George’s County based group Higher Education. As the darkness had crept into this point of the summer night, more and more people began to enter the venue to prepare for the headlining act. From the first minute of their set, it was clear that they were very polished, and very ready to have a great time. Featuring brothers Petey and Danny Devaney on guitar, bass, and vocals, as well as drummer Bradley Wilson, the extremely special sound of this band came from Saxophone player Dave Klein. While incredible instrumentalists in each of their own rights, the combination of a tight rock band featuring a horn section made for an indispensable sound. Dancing, singing, moving – the crowd were into these guys, and rightfully so. Seeing them for the first time sold me, and I can’t wait to hear what is next. Like every other group, energy was clearly brought, but the bigger audience turnout at this specific point of the night really set the island mood for what was coming next.
The last act and headliners of the event were none other than Bumpin’ Uglies. Presenting a wide variety of new and old songs, not much can be said about their performance aside from one word – fantastic. Matching extremely well written vocal lines and harmonies along with the tight instrumental performances of funky, Sublime inspired reggae-rock, the Uglies put on a great show. While each band shined in their own light, the stage presence and antics of lead singer and guitarist, Brandon Hardesty, made for arguably the most entertaining performance of the night. The rhythm section of Dave Wolf and TJ Haslett on the bass and drums, respectively, could not have been any tighter. These guys are seasoned pros, and it shows. If their music was not already cool enough, Brandon was willing to sit with me for a while before his set and chat. His story will be brought to you as a SurfRhythm exclusive as our next segment in Local Waves. Playing until past midnight, Bumpin’ Uglies closed out their party as any professionals would – keeping smiles on faces and the night alive for the audience. Truly, a job well done.
While watching and dancing to the musicians pouring their hearts and souls into this craft, I was able to notice the mix of people, both young and old, dancing, singing along, and just having a good time. As a commonly noted frequenter of many different styles of music, this gig stood out to me. It is truly mind blowing to know that there are groups working tirelessly, not always for the money and the fame, but just for the passion and to make their living doing what they love. This mindset seemed to be one of the connecting links between each group. While not playing the exact same types of music, the common theme of the heavy jam was strong with everyone. It just goes to show how cool it can be to have a good time with people, be it your friends, or someone you just met, and how the waves of melody can make your night.
All in all, this was a great gig to go to. Between the atmosphere, people, and most importantly the music, there was no negativity to be seen or heard. All of these bands are either currently on some form of tour or performance schedule. Attached below are the links to their respective pages and music, given in order to help anyone interested learn more about the bands, music, tour dates – the whole nine yards. Even if this kind of music is not your cup of tea, or case of beer for that matter, I highly recommend checking each one out. You will absolutely not be disappointed.
Bumpin’ Uglies: http://bumpinugliesmusic.com/
Higher Education: http://highereducationband.com/
Amongst the Monks: http://www.amongstthemonks.com/